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A white nationalist group booked a conference near Yosemite. The lodge canceled it

An image and story referring to the cancellation of VDare Foundation’s conference at Tenaya Lodge was posted on the organization’s website.
An image and story referring to the cancellation of VDare Foundation’s conference at Tenaya Lodge was posted on the organization’s website.

Officials for Tenaya Lodge near Fish Camp, just outside Yosemite National Park, on Monday canceled the booking for a white nationalist group’s public conference after becoming aware of the organization’s views.

The Connecticut-based VDare Foundation bills itself as a nonprofit journalistic enterprise, striving to preserve “the distinctive culture of America” and calling racial diversity a vulnerability. The Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization that tracks hate groups, calls VDare an extremist, white nationalist and anti-immigrant group.

VDare had booked meeting space and rooms at Tenaya from March 31 to April 2 for its “first-ever public conference.” VDare started promoting the conference on its website Monday, describing it as a celebration of President Donald Trump’s election and saying it will “bring together the prophets of our movements.”

The post didn’t stay up long. Two organizations published critical pieces about the conference. Lydia Brimelow, VDare’s advancement officer, said Tenaya’s sales and marketing director called later that day to cancel the event after the lodge started getting complaint calls.

VDare’s website on Tuesday afternoon posted a story about the cancellation. The post included an image that had the words “cowardly venue backed out.”

Glen White, a spokesman for Delaware North, which operates Tenaya Lodge, said Delaware North regrets “the mistake” and that the lodge in no way endorses VDare.

We did not realize this group has values that are in conflict with our embracement of diversity among our employees and guests

Glen White of Delaware North

“Unfortunately, at the time of booking we did not realize this group has values that are in conflict with our embracement of diversity among our employees and guests. ...” White said. “We are also concerned that providing meeting space and rooms to this group could be disruptive to our other guests’ enjoyment of Tenaya Lodge and the services we provide to those guests.”

Brimelow said she was transparent with Tenaya officials and told them to research her organization.

They were either willfully ignorant, or are lying.

Lydia Brimelow of VDare

“We gave them our real name,” she told The Bee. “We said we are politically controversial, immigration related. We said there may be security issues. They were either willfully ignorant, or are lying.”

Brimelow said VDare will host other conferences in the future, but does not have the resources to find another venue on such short notice.

SPLC wrote about the conference Monday, saying it presents a shift from VDare’s strategy of using the internet to propagate racism to a strategy of real-world activism. SPLC said the shift is “echoed by other white nationalist groups like Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute and fueled by a sentiment widespread on the far-right that President Trump’s election offered a legitimizing win for white nationalism.”

Media Matters for America, a liberal research center that monitors “conservative misinformation,” also criticized the VDare conference Monday.

Media matters wrote that Tom Tancredo, a columnist for the conservative news website Breitbart and former Republican congressman from Colorado, was scheduled to speak at the conference. Steve Bannon, Breitbart’s former executive chairman, is now President Donald Trump’s chief strategist.

Tancredo’s columns have headlines including “Mexico is sending us colonists, not immigrants,” and “From Jenner to D.C., multiculturalism virus is destroying the U.S.” Bannon has called Tancredo one of the top immigration experts in the country.

Andrea Castillo: 559-441-6279, @andreamcastillo

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